Street Lights (Kanye West song)

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"Street Lights"
Song by Kanye West
from the album 808s & Heartbreak

"Street Lights" is a song by American hip hop artist Kanye West. It was produced by West, with co-production from Mr Hudson. Background vocals are contributed by Esthero and Tony Williams. The song was used in an eye kit video from the In The Mirror series by Pat McGrath that starred West's wife Kim Kardashian. A music video was officially released over West's blog in June 2009. "Street Lights" has been subject to cover versions by Ruby Amanfu, Daniel Caesar and Stars.

Mic's Phillip Lewis wrote the song "may not have been the most recognized song from the entire project, but was crucial to the album."[2]

"Street Lights" was used for the soundtrack on Grey's Anatomy, season 5 episode 10, which was titled "All By Myself".[3]


The track includes tom-tom drums and bare piano is combined with moody effects in the opening.[1] It was featured in a 2017 eye kit video by make-up artist Pat McGrath, which featured an appearance from West's wife Kim Kardashian and was released as part of McGrath's In The Mirror series.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork pointed out the song's "relatively busy sounds" as being "among the sonic highlights" of the album.[5] It was described by Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone as being "a haze of distortion floats above tolling keyboard chords and a hammering beat".[6]

HotNewHipHop placed "Street Lights" at number 32 on their list of West's 50 best songs.[7]

Music video[edit]

On June 29, 2009, West shared the official music video over his blog, which was directed by Javier Longobardo.[8] The video is animated and features West driving a car through a deserted metropolis, continuously on the search for a destination that he's unable to reach.[9]

Pigeons and Planes shared an unofficial music video that was uploaded to Vimeo on November 22, 2008.[10]

Live performances[edit]

On West's 2009 live album VH1 Storytellers, a live performance of the track was included, which wasn't originally broadcast on VH1.[11] West performed the track live in Seattle on the kickoff show of The Yeezus Tour on October 19, 2013.[12] It was also part of West's setlist for the first concert in New York City for the tour when he took it to the Barclay's Center there.[13] The track was performed by him at the 2015 Hollywood Bowl, with the theatre being flooded with stop-sign red light specifically for West's performance of it.[14]


The song was covered by R&B singer Ruby Amanfu on June 22, 2015.[15] A cover version entitled "Streetcar" was released by R&B singer Daniel Caesar on November 12, which gathered praise.[16] On February 18, 2016, indie pop band Stars released a cover version with the same title as the original.[17]


Information taken from 808s & Heartbreak liner notes.[18]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Jenny-Bea Englishman, Antony Williams, Benjamin McIldowie
  • Producers: Kanye West, Mr Hudson
  • Recorders: Andrew Dawson, Anthony Kilhoffer
  • Keyboards: Jeff Bhasker
  • Background vocals: Esthero, Tony Williams
  • Mixer: Manny Marroquin


  1. ^ a b McGuire, Colin (July 18, 2011). "Hip-Hop’s Heartbreak: Kanye West – “Street Lights”". PopMatters. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Lewis, Phillip (February 23, 2016). "Twitter Shines a "Light" on Something All of Kanye West's Best Songs Have in Common". Mic. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  3. ^ Keaney, Quinn (August 12, 2019). "25 Songs From Grey's Anatomy Guaranteed to Make You Sob Uncontrollably". PopSugar. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Blais-Billie, Braudie (April 5, 2017). "Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's 'Streetlights' Star in Pat McGrath's Latest Eye Kit Video". Billboard. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  5. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (December 2, 2008). "Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  6. ^ Rosen, Jody (December 11, 2008). "808s & Heartbreak". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Schwartz, Danny (February 15, 2018). "Top 50 Best Kanye West Songs". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  8. ^ Breihan, Tom (June 29, 2009). "Video: Kanye West: "Street Lights"". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  9. ^ Baker, Ernest; Kamer, Foster; Ahmed, Insanul; Nostro, Lauren; Spencer, Tannis; Simmons, Ted; Shipley, Al (June 8, 2018). "Ranking All 43 of Kanye West's Music Videos". Complex. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Confusion (November 22, 2008). "Kanye West - Streetlights (Unofficial Vid)". Complex. Pigeons and Planes. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  11. ^ Montgomery, James (December 14, 2009). "Kanye West VH1 'Storytellers' CD/DVD Hits Stores In January". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Levine, Nick (October 20, 2013). "Kanye West raps from giant mountain on opening night of 'The Yeezus Tour' - watch". NME. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Farber, Jim (November 20, 2013). "Concert review: Kanye West startles, appalls during 'Yeezus' show at Barclays". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Trammell, Matthew; Nocito, Jason (September 26, 2015). "Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak Live Show Is Proof Fam' Can't Kill Him". The FADER. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  15. ^ "Hear Ruby Amanfu's Nashville Twist on Kanye West's 'Streetlights'". Rolling Stone. June 23, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  16. ^ Pastuk, Slava (November 12, 2015). "Daniel Caesar's "Streetcar" is a Polished Take on a Kanye West's "Streetlights"". Noisey. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  17. ^ Breihan, Tom (February 18, 2016). "Stars – "Streetlights" (Kanye West Cover)". Stereogum. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  18. ^ 808s & Heartbreak. Roc-A-Fella Records (Media notes). Kanye West. 2008. 0-06025-1791919-8.CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]